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Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges on the 99 Percent

Posted on Oct 6, 2011
AP / Craig Ruttle

Unions gave a high-profile boost to the long-running Occupy Wall Street protest against economic inequality, with their members joining thousands of protesters in a lower Manhattan march.

(Page 3)

Josh Scheer: Now, I want to ask you—I’m angry, obviously; we see the Occupy Wall Street people, they’re angry; there’s a lot of angry people in this country, with the approval ratings and everything else. But we don’t maybe want to vote Republican; we don’t want to be part of the tea party; we, obviously, maybe no one will vote for the president, the current president. What do we do? I mean, what do you do if you’re just angry? Should we just go out and protest and make our voices heard?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Well, let’s talk about the nature of any protest movement. The importance of protest is—and particularly today—is that people become visible. It is through our personal physical presence, through our own visibility merging with others, that we are able to demonstrate, en masse, our objection to the current affairs. And this is a very powerful statement. It’s consistent with our constitutional privilege of freedom of speech and right to assemble, and it’s consistent with the American tradition that wherever change was brought about, it was not brought about because Washington suddenly decided, through its munificence, that one day it would create a situation where people of color would have full rights; where one day it would create a situation where women would have the right to vote; one day it [would create] a situation where there would be a health care program for seniors. So many of these movements started in the streets. And so we really need a movement for economic justice, and the only place it’s going to start is in the streets. But not, you know—it’s profound that we’re seeing Wall Street be the target, because people are making the connection. Instead of just coming outside the Capitol, they’re going outside Wall Street. It’s a different kind of “capital,” c-a-p-i-t-a-l. And that kind of capital has great power to direct the affairs of our nation. And that’s something, that the awareness of the Wall Street occupiers is such that all over the country people are starting to pay attention, and they’re starting to create similar protests in their own communities. And frankly, I think there are millions and millions of Americans who are demanding a level of economic change that the system currently can’t even begin to comprehend; and yet the failure of the system to do so will result in the system being dramatically changed within the next few years.

Josh Scheer: Well, I just want to wrap up with one quick question about your redistricting. And I know that you’ve been redistricted, and I want to let our listeners know what they can do for you, but also, what’s the situation in Ohio?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: The district that I’m running in right now is a district that has been created through the merging of two congressional districts, the 10th District—or three congressional districts—the 10th District, which I represent; the 13th District, which Betty Sutton represents; and the 9th District, represented by [Marcia (Marcy)] Kaptur. So 54 percent of the registered Democrats from my district are in a new district, and 34 percent are from Ms. Kaptur’s district, and 12 percent from Ms. Sutton’s district. So at this point, it looks like I’m headed for a primary against my friend from Toledo, Marcia Kaptur. It’s nothing that I sought, but the Republicans drew a district that extends a hundred miles along Lake Erie. So, you know, I have a primary election on March the 6th, and I am preparing for it. Because the election’s now—it’s about, oh, roughly about 153 days. And so it becomes urgent that I organize and do all the other things that are necessary to be able to get people involved in the campaign.


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Josh Scheer: And then, obviously, you’re on H.R. 2990, and I just want to let people know again it’s the [National Emergency] Employment Defense Act. And you can write your congressman, if you’re listening to this in any other part of the country, to vote for it. Thank you so much for joining us.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: I appreciate being on the phone with you, and I look forward to speaking with you again.

Josh Scheer: Oh, yeah. Have a great day, congressman.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Bye, now.

Peter Scheer: That was Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaking with Truthdig’s Josh Scheer.

* * *

Peter Scheer:This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Peter Scheer. Coming up on the program: modern midwifery and deportation. But first, the occupation on Wall Street has spread to cities across the country, with protesters camping out in downtown Los Angeles since last Saturday. Reporter Howie Stier has been at the scene every day. He files this report.

Howie Stier: [Dragnet music] That memorable theme accompanies the establishing shot of TV’s “Dragnet,” depicting the iconic Los Angeles City Hall building—that towering structure of marble and limestone, a monument to municipal corruption erected at a staggering cost during the Great Depression. And this past
Saturday, over a thousand people representing Southern Californians of all stripes descended upon it, following the movement that erupted Sept. 17 at a park vis a vis Wall Street in New York City. Dismayed at the staggering disproportionate distribution of wealth in the United States, many protesters have adopted the appellation of “the 99 percent.” Those who showed up for today, as well as those who would commit for the duration, came from the ranks of the unemployed and the overworked—and those with the insight and anxiousness that any day, their staff jobs and freelance clients could disappear.

The presence of mass “hacktivists” and bandanna-ed anarchists, professional protesters, the uninsured, college students and college dropouts embracing the moment they had long anticipated. “Oh, how goodly are your tents, Jacob”: those words of a strange prophet, inspired by the sight of the camp of the Israelites, come to mind, evoked by the scene this morning in downtown Los Angeles on the fifth day of the Occupy L.A. demonstration. Not just because of the physical deployment of some 60 tents of the protesters’ high-speed camping gear, neatly arrayed around two sides of L.A.’s City Hall, but because the atmosphere here, in the early morning rain, is charged with a feeling of spirituality and a communal outpouring that is greater than an expression of discontent with the way things are.

Those who set up camp the first night were mostly people who, according to organizers, had, open quotes, “challenged living conditions,” but since then their two dozen tents have grown to some 60. This is part Burning Man, part wartime field seminar. The occupiers are kept busy by organizers who have the day scheduled out as ambitiously as any Dragon Mom. At 8 a.m., a breakfast of coffee ladled from a cooler, and eggs and fruit donated by local businesses, is served. Then the arts and entertainment committee kicks in. Throughout the day, occupiers listen to speakers, discuss the issues that drew them here, and share skills. Pizza pies arrive en masse, the boxes quickly recycled into perfectly proportioned signs, and on Monday afternoon the group rallied for a march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Support from those commuting during crunch hour was evident when drivers dropped beats, honking horns in solidarity rather than in frustration at marchers snarling traffic.

There are two elements common to any public gathering in L.A. that are noticeably missing from this action; first, the smell of California super-weed; and second, there are no men in blue—no cops to be seen anywhere. And only a single strand of yellow tape cordons off the upper steps of City Hall. And the protesters abide; and to a person, none are fearful of a confrontation, or catching a wooden shampoo should a change in policing come down.

Howie Stier: Tell me your name.

Protester No. 1: My name is Anonymous.

Howie Stier: You’ve been out here all weekend?

Protester No. 1: Oh, yeah. I’ve been out here from the beginning, from Saturday till now.

Howie Stier: What do you expect to accomplish?

Protester No. 1: I’m not sure any of us know what our goals are. As you can tell, even on Wall Street they don’t know what they’re doing yet. The only one thing that they do know is that something is wrong with this world, and it needs to be changed. We’re not going to get any specific demands, and people should know that, because some people don’t want this system anymore. This system is far beyond corrupted. Some people just want a whole new way of life.

Howie Stier: And how long do you plan to be out here?

Protester No. 1: As long as it takes. Couple weeks, couple months, couple days.

Protester No. 2: It’s not OK to …

Child: Take away money!

Protester No. 2: Ah-hah. Or …

Child: Take away jobs.

Howie Stier: What do you do?

Protester No. 3:Right now I’m unemployed. But I’m trying to get work in the software industry. I’m a software engineer.

Howie Stier: You studied software engineering?

Protester No. 3: Yes, I have.

Howie Stier: You have student loans to pay back?

Protester No. 3: I have over $100,000 in student loans right now.

Howie Stier: And how long have you been unemployed?

Protester No. 3: Since June.

Howie Stier: You haven’t been unemployed that long.

Protester No. 3: No.

Howie Stier: There are some people here who haven’t worked in years.  You’re not that personally affected, yet you’re prepared to stay here for the long haul. You’ve got a pillow, you’ve got a cooler, you’ve got water. Why are you here?

Protester No. 3: I’m here for two reasons. One is my generation, the people who are 18 to 24, are in the 18th percent unemployment. We have a future that we’re trying to breed, and we can’t even get work. So that’s one part of the reason I’m here. The other part is I have family members, friends, people I talk to—they don’t know about these protests. Even the Wall Street one which is now two weeks, going into the third week. They have no idea what’s going on. So I’m here to just kind of broadcast to them why we’re here, what’s going on, what they’re about, just to kind of open their eyes.


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By Pacific, October 12, 2011 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

Thanks for all your reports.  As a former resident of Los Angeles, I found the venders report and the impact of “Community Security” staggeringly insulting.  The linking of local law enforcement with Homeland Security and immigration was one of my biggest fears since childhood, and as an adult, since 9/11. 

As a child, we had a Mexican nanny who was a second mother to me and my sister, and who was whisked away one night by immigration officials while my parents were out to dinner.  A green and white patrol car pulled up to the house, and an official in what looked like a train steward’s cap came to the door wanting to talk to our nanny, Julia.  I was five or six at the time, and happily brought her to the door.  He questioned her briefly, then led her out to the awaiting car.  I lived for a long time with the guilt of having turned her over to the “ferderales,” even though she returned weeks later, and worked for us for years to come.  She eventually found work with another family, but I would run into her walking around town on occasion well into my late teens, and was always greeted with the big embrace of a long lost son.  I loved her like my own mother.  This is probably a “luxurious” example of the plight of undocumented workers, but one that has stayed with me all my life.

I remain of the opinion that we should open the “floodgates” to Mexican and Central American workers, document them, give them drivers licenses (of course), and help integrate them into the mainstream of American life..regardless of current unemployment statistics.  As second and third generation Mexican-Americans have proven, they are at least equally if not better prepared to meet the challenges of an increasingly difficult “American Dream,” and with all that they have contributed to the dreams of others, we are obligated to afford them similar opportunities that we once offered the same immigrants during better economic times.
Keep up the good reporting of “The Occupation” (sic).

Bangkok, Thailand

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By Night-Gaunt, October 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

A real leader wouldn’t care what pressure Kos, the President, or anyone else placed upon him.

A real leader would say, “Fuck off! I’m not voting for a bill that was written by a former WellPoint executive and which forces people to buy junk insurance.”

Real easy for you to say. They were going to help the Republicans and DINOs to unseat him. Now wouldn’t you just be sitting pretty if they did? Where would be the good in that? His vote wasn’t important for the numbers, just for the appearance. I’m glad he did. I’d like to see you do that? Lose everything over one item. “Smart” and short sighted you are.

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By Lafayette, October 8, 2011 at 7:30 am Link to this comment


CH: But they can be snarky and snide and dismissive of the left, because the left has no power within this country, yet. I mean, let’s hope that that changes.

If CH believes this, then he has a bad misunderstanding of the “Left” in America. Perhaps he’s spent too much time abroad, watching leftist demonstrations with red banners,

It is true that the Latins (French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese) will descend into the streets at the drop of a hat. Americans don’t have that custom. Nowadays, we bitch-in-a-blog – which is about as progenitive as is masturbation. In fact, that’s all it is – mental masturbation.

MLK showed the way with his Million Man March in ’95. He wanted attention and no TV channel could possibly overlook 837,000 people camped on an esplanade in DC. Let’s hope that progressives have learned a lesson from that bit of history.  It was a grassroots movement, just like the present one, and it must be followed by something more than just oratory.

A meaningful Progressive Agenda is what would precipitate that coalescence into a political movement.

The question remains nonetheless, How does such a movement advance reformative politics? Some are hoping for a third party – but history shows that Americans tend to eschew such parties. So, it appears that the best chances for bringing about concrete reformational change in our political class is from within the more progressive of the existing parties.  (That’s the Dems, of course.)

Besides, in an election such as the presidency, two candidates on the Left will only split the vote; thus allowing the sole candidate on the Right to waltz into the Oval Office.


Without a well-written Progressive Agenda designating the primary objective of addressing Income Distribution Fairness in America, it is unclear how all the present effort can obtain eventually a conclusive electoral result. Meaning, stay focused on what is really important and let, for the moment, the ancillary objectives to wait just a bit.

Otherwise the movement becomes diffused, loses focus and dissipates. This is particularly the threat on the Left, which tends to be a rainbow profusion of political colours.

Can the Left learn to sing off the same hymn sheet as do the mindless Replicants? Which is the key to success, I submit. That is, as long as the hymn sheet in question is an attractive Progressive Agenda.

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By Mark A. Goldman, October 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How to Fix the Economy

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By MK77, October 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

“Mk77 don’t you remember the pressure put upon [Dennis Kucinich] by the DailyKos who said they would do all they can to unseat him if he didn’t vote for it?”

A real leader wouldn’t care what pressure Kos, the President, or anyone else placed upon him.

A real leader would say, “Fuck off! I’m not voting for a bill that was written by a former WellPoint executive and which forces people to buy junk insurance.”

But alas, we don’t have leaders anymore. What we have are a bunch of nervous sell-out types afraid to stand up to bullies and speak the truth.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

Why weren’t people doing this during Reagan‘s time? There were some protesting against wars usually. The Bush‘s had hundreds of thousands protesting in major cities but were ignored. If it weren’t for the cops brutalizing people the Corporate Main Stream Media has finally lent part of an ear. The Reich wing are doing spin control but too many others see through that. Especially now that even some Tea Party types are there now too on the side of the protestors!

Dennis Kucinich can’t run for president since his party doesn’t like his point of view. They would deep-six him like the did before. We should have him as president not that faux Progressive, the Regressive Obama.

Mk77 don’t you remember the pressure put upon him by the DailyKos who said they would do all they can to unseat him if he didn’t vote for it? <b><i>Do some research. (Secretly the corps were for it all along as are the Republicans but they have put themselves into this strange position of being against all things Democrat even if it agrees with them!)

The police have shown that overall they still are for the bankers and hedge fund millionaire managers over us. But not all of them.

The Tea Party doesn’t get hassled by the police because they are on the side of the police. Ever wonder about that?

Shouldn’t it be the 90%ers? Since the top 10% own about 50%-75% of this country and how many of them are on our side? Not many I’d wager, not many at all.

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By Philip Feeley, October 7, 2011 at 11:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why weren’t these massive, sustained protests happening during the Reagan/Bush years? The problem was just as bad when they were in charge.

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By EmileZ, October 7, 2011 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

@ cpb

Indisputable Fair and Balanceshipmanhood is a rare achievement and it bestows great honors upon you and your magnificent brain.


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By EmileZ, October 7, 2011 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

@ cpb

You are indisputably fair and balanced.

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By cpb, October 7, 2011 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Follow up to previous…  Let’s not forget the guy that
pretended to be a Koch brother and called the governor of
Wisconsin, suggested agent provocateur tactics to deal
with the growing protests, and received in reply
confirmation that such had indeed been considered and
debated.  They didn’t try it, for whatever reason, but
they thought about it. 

Let’s not be naive.

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By cpb, October 7, 2011 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

“It is amazing to see what can happen at a protest if a
small group of “anarchists” in all black DOES NOT show
up and start smashing things up.”

- Emilez

Worth pointing out that while many who show up in black
and smash shit may identify as anarchist, they do not
define the philosophy nor are they representative of the
majority of those who would so identify.

It is perhaps more important to point out that often
those that show up and smash shit, dressing the
stereotypical part, are paid members of the security

Black Bloc is not a club - it is a tactic.
Agent Provocateur is not a person - it is a tactic.

If one fears that the state will inevitably “deal with
it”, then one should expect the latter tactic to be
considered and possibly employed.  During last years G20
in Toronto there was ample evidence suggesting that the
violence that did ensue was possibly instigated and most
definitely accommodated.  The PR gained was invaluable.

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By Lafayette, October 7, 2011 at 2:04 am Link to this comment


DK: The district that I’m running in right now is a district that has been created through the merging of two congressional districts

I am an American who lives in France, but I vote in Massachusetts.

First, I want to thank Rep. Kucinich for his tireless efforts to stop the “gerrymandering”  that ossifies our nation into a two party system - which is so easy to control by manipulation (of politicians and electoral spending).

I want to congratulate him for the fine work he has done in representing the state of Massachusetts and his brand of progressive Social Democracy 
to which I have become accustomed these long years I’ve lived in Europe.

I would be pleased that one day we have a similar faction of Social Democracy firmly ensconced in the Democrat Party. It would do America a world of good to foster and implement Social Democrat policies.

It has worked wonders in Europe, which has generally a far lower level of Income Inequality (see here ) than the US.

Who needs more proof than that?

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By Marian Griffith, October 7, 2011 at 1:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are two critical changes that need to be made to the current system.
One, as you pointed out, is to limit campaign contributions. Evidence is abundant that the candidate with most money tends to win elections. So if most americans can afford to contribute perhaps 100 dollars to a campaign and a billionair spends a million, this means that the billionaire’s vote is worth 10000 times as much as that of the average american. So, if we limit contributions to 100 dollars most americans can have their vote back and we starve the perverse system that is based not on an exchange of ideas but of on who can pump out the most and most effective character assassination ads on television.

The other critial change that needs to be made is to reign in the financial markets. Fiat banking is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. However it needs strict regulations and tight ovesight. Any oversight that is not hated is not doing its job right after all. The most glaring, and damaging, part of it is how the banks keep invented new ways to gamble with the same money and pretend it is an entirely new contribution to the economy. Ultimately a share is nothing but a promissory of a percentage of the profit of a company. Trading in those shares does not add anything economically, and it does not determine the ‘value’ of the company in any way or form. That is putting the horse behind the cart really. Things get even worse if banks then start trading in projected share values at a future date, and add the volume of that to their ‘economic production’. And not satisfied with that they added insurance against default to their ‘production’, and trading in that insurance, and collaterised insurance, and trading in that, and insurance against that, and trading in -that- insurance. The newest ‘invention’ is gambling how well somebody can manage to predict changes in stock values.
And all that ‘trade’ in those ‘products’ is added to the ‘economic production’ that banks claim to represent, while it all really boils down to that one share that promises a percentage of a company’s profit that is sold a thousand times in different guises, often by people who never had nor never will have the share to begin with.
And now we have an immense hot air balloon full of money that is tied to economy in only the most tenuous ways, but that is direction the fate of entire nations and hundreds of millions of people. We -must- cut through all the pretense and self importance and get back to a situation where -economy- rules the economy, and not arbitrary numbers in a computer somewhere that say that somebody has 40 billion and the right to tell who lives and who dies.

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By EmileZ, October 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

RE Hedges/Occupy Wall Street.

It is amazing to see what can happen at a protest if a small group of “anarchists” in all black DOES NOT show up and start smashing things up.

Insightful commentary by Mr. Hedges.

This is a unique event in many many ways.

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By Carson, October 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

The reason for Occupy Wall Street and the 99% er’s. Gaze upon it if you dare.

Maybe this will help make the danger of fiat money clear.

Imagine you and me are setting across from each other. We create enough money to represent all of the world’s wealth. Each one of us has one SUPER Dollar in front of him.

You own half of everything and so do I.

I’m the government though. I get bribed into creating a Central Bank.

You’re not doing what I want you to be doing so I print up myself eight more SUPER Dollars to manipulate you with.

All of a sudden your SUPER Dollar only represents one tenth of the wealth of the world!

That isn’t the only thing though. You need to get busy and get to work because YOU’VE BEEN STIFFED with the bill for the money I PRINTED UP to get YOU TO DO what I WANTED.

That to me represents what has been happening to the economy, and us, and why so many of our occupations just can’t keep up with the fake money presses.

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By christian96, October 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

Well, after reading a few comments, maybe Dennis is
like other politicans.  All smoke(talk) and no
fire(action.)  I guess God is going to have to
search for 10 good people on Capitol Hill instead
of 9.  I hope you people know what you are talking

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By MK77, October 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Why did you, a so-called single-payer advocate, vote for the Corporate Healthcare Bill?

You know, the one that forces everybody in the country to give their hard-earned money to insurance companies like Aetna—the one that doesn’t even have an anemic public option?

Talk is cheap. When the chips were down, you cast your lot with the corporations just like everybody else in Washington.

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By Jason Pacifico, October 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Where is—- Congressman Kucinich—(1)  a Guarantee Jobs Bill, (2)a new minimum wage of $15.40 an hour ($32,000. a year), (3) a Marxist “wage multiplier,” as the Banks and Wall Street have “30 to 1 banking multipliers”—$100. in deposits creates $3000 for the banks.(4) Wage multipliers, for example, of 8 to 1 ,  the employers like Wal-Mart only need to put in $4000. in their payroll account which multipliers to create the $32,000 in their payroll account for the yearly jobs. ..

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By christian96, October 6, 2011 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

I was thinking about Sodom and Gomorrah this morning.
God told Abraham that he would spare them if he could find 10 good people.  He couldn’t and they
were destroyed.  Could God find 10 good people on
Capitol Hill?  I think Dennis Kucinich would be one.
Could God find 9 more?

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By Artsy, October 6, 2011 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

Dennis and Chris are 2 of my favorite people on this planet. Thank you both for all that you do!

....Add Ron Paul to the mix who gets very little media attention and we have 3 strikes against the other side! We need 3 strikes to get one corporate con out!

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By christian96, October 6, 2011 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

This morning I was thinking about Sodom and Gomorrah.
God told Abraham he would spare them if he could
find 10 good people.  Obviously, he couldn’t and
they were destroyed.  What if God made the same
offer today about people on Capitol Hill?  Could
God find 10?  I think Dennis Kucinich would be one.
Could God find 9 more?

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By Basoflakes, October 6, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

The solution to America’s problem begins with the elimination of unlimited private funding of candidates and the resulting influence of lobbyists and corporatocracy.  This can be done by two simple ideas - public funded elections and written platforms.

Without elections that are bought and paid for by Wall Street, Corporate America, and the wealthy, we can return to a democracy by the people.  Without it, we will linger in a purgatory of our current system.

What do we learn from the Trillions spent by candidates on their elections and the ‘debates’ - nothing but flip-flopping drivel.  Instead of spending all that money, bring back the idea of a platform.  Candidates establish their goals in a written platform, and reduce their time on air to answering questions about that platform.

Simple, straight to the point, non-refutable, unwielding, and truthful - but especially, innexpensive and democratic - likely the reason no existing Congressman, Senator or President would go for it.

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By Artsy, October 6, 2011 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Hooray for the protesters! I seriously hope we grow into the millions.

We are suffering under the rule of an antagonistic Government and big business. This is not new or due to this President alone - many before have contributed to our slated demise. They are intent on taking away our rights and running the world. They need to be stopped in their tracks because that is not their job. The bail-outs were WRONG and the lack of regard for the Constitution is also WRONG. The criminals who ignore it should be arrested and imprisoned for treason against the American people.

The corporate war mongers force unjust wars on us and the people who live in them are a disgrace. They have instigated the aggression towards our country and they are effectively breaking us economically. Our honored soldiers are forced to risk life and limb for BIG BUSINESS, not us. The White House, administration, Senate, Congress and corporate lobbiests allow for this corrupt police state and fraudulent media conglomerates keep it moving ahead. The military / industrial complex must fail or our country is done.

“We the people” want our country back and since peaceful protest is our only means to maintain our freedom, we MUST support them and join them if possible. There is no other way.

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By Trish Roberts, October 6, 2011 at 8:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Dennis and Chris

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By MycallMcb, October 6, 2011 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

>Dennis you have the right questions and the best answers I’ve heard….please run for president, we need an alternative to corporate plutocracy…

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